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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

New Spectator Sport: Watching Zealot Mental Breakdowns

Posted by Bob Brigham

All across America, people are beginning to understand that the zealots who lead the Republican Party will stop at nothing to ensure a one party political system. Senator Bill Frist and Congressman Tom DeLay have no respect for the rules, no respect for cooperation, no respect for debate. All they care about is forcing their extremist views upon America.

With great pleasure I've been watching the GOP response to the compromise that saved the institution of the Senate. This has been covered all over the blogosphere, but I found the following email of particular interest:


Radical Republicans and right-wing activists have repeatedly stressed their all-or-nothing position on the nuclear option. They find compromise unacceptable. After the defection of seven moderate Republican Senators from the pro-nuclear position of Senate Republican leadership, radical activists express their disappointment over failing to take the Senate nuclear.

Conservatives unhappy with the moderates’ deal because it is the same one offered by Senator Harry Reid, rejected by Senator Frist. Writing in the conservative National Review, Andrew McCarthy assessed the moderates’ deal: “Let’s say, instead, that they simply gave us the bottom line: (a) three of the president’s nominees get an up-or-down vote (i.e., exactly three of the pending seven left standing after the Democrats — in that spirit of compromise — whittled down from the original ten); (b) the Democrats remain free to filibuster (but only on the strict condition that, uh, well, that the Democrats feel like filibustering); and (c) the Republicans, on the brink of breaking four years of obstruction, decide instead to punt (and on the eve of a likely battle over a Supreme Court vacancy, no less). Sound familiar? Yes it does: It’s the deal that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid offered a week ago — and that was flatly rejected as paltry and unprincipled.” [National Review, 5/24/05 http://www.nationalreview.com/mccarthy/mccarthy200505240945.asp]

Focus on the Family Chairman James Dobson calls compromise a “complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans, great victory for Senate Democrats. "This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats. Only three of President Bush's nominees will be given the courtesy of an up-or-down vote, and it's business as usual for all the rest. The rules that blocked conservative nominees remain in effect, and nothing of significance has changed. Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist would never have served on the U. S. Supreme Court if this agreement had been in place during their confirmations. The unconstitutional filibuster survives in the arsenal of Senate liberals. [U.S. Newswire, 5/23/05 http://press.arrivenet.com/pol/article.html/642140.html]

Disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment: Dobson goes on: "We are grateful to Majority Leader Frist for courageously fighting to defend the vital principle of basic fairness. That principle has now gone down to defeat. We share the disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment felt by millions of conservative Americans who helped put Republicans in power last November. I am certain that these voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust." [U.S. Newswire, 5/23/05 http://press.arrivenet.com/pol/article.html/642140.html]

Former Republican presidential candidate, Gary Bauer, calls compromise a “travesty.” "Under this agreement it is now more likely that radical social change will continue to be forced on the American people by liberal courts committed to same sex marriage, abortion on demand and hostility to religious expression. The Republicans who lent their names to this travesty have undercut their President as well as millions of their most loyal voters. Shame on them all." [U.S. Newswire, 5/23/05 http://press.arrivenet.com/pol/article.html/642143.html]

Moderate Republicans have thrown victory overboard. Paul Weyrich, veteran conservative organizer, says of the compromise," Once again, moderate Republicans have taken the victory and thrown it overboard." [New York Times, 5/24/05 http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/24/politics/24reax.html]

A big defeat for the Republicans, Democrats win even though they put a few judges up for confirmation. “Conservatives are going to be outraged over it," said Paul Weyrich, a veteran social conservative organizer and founder of the Free Congress Foundation. "And what do they get for it? This is about the Supreme Court, and the filibuster is still intact for the Supreme Court. This is a big defeat for the Republicans. The Democrats win even though they have got to put a few judges up for confirmation." [New York Times, 5/24/05 http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/24/politics/24reax.html]

Moderate Republicans didn’t have the backbone and the fortitude to stand up for the fact that we are the majority. The Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman and founder of the Traditional Values Coalition: said he was sitting with several conservative senators and a dozen Republican House members at the Capitol Hill Club when they learned of the agreement. "I tell you, you would have thought that the World Series had been forfeited for some dumb reason," Sheldon said. "They slapped their hands against their heads and cried out. They couldn't believe that this was the agreement." . . . . . Of the seven Republicans who signed the compromise agreement, Sheldon said: "They didn't have the backbone and the fortitude to stand up for the fact that we are the majority." [L.A. Times 5/24/05 http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-react24may24,0,69327.story?coll=la-home-headlines]

Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, says it’s not over. "I think we are going to be back here down the road," he said. [New York Times, 5/24/04 http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/24/politics/24reax.html]

Iowa Right to Life Committee president, Kim Lehman calls compromise “absurd,” an “abandonment.” In an interview, Lehman called the proposed compromise "absolutely absurd" and said it amounted to "abandonment" of the GOP. "The grassroots worked very hard to elect this Republican Senate. It's not an accident that we have the majority, and they've squandered it," she said. "When on earth did they decide to compromise the Constitution?" [CNN, Morning Grind 5/24/05]

Washington Times announces: “7 Republicans abandon GOP on filibuster. “The deal didn't satisfy Majority Leader Bill Frist, who has maintained that the Constitution requires up-or-down votes on all judicial nominees. ‘The agreement announced tonight falls short of that principle,’ the Tennessee Republican said on the Senate floor. ‘It falls short. It has some good news, and it has some disappointing news.’ “ [Washington Times, 5/24/05 http://washingtontimes.com/national/20050524-122305-7180r.htm]

Right-wing activists warn compromisers about their chances in the Iowa caucuses. President of Iowa Christian Coalition Steve Scheffler, president of the Christian Coalition of Iowa, said '08 caucus-goers have a long memory and little patience for "Republicans who oppose George Bush's judges." "We'll educate people in the caucuses, and this is not going to do them a lot of good in terms of their presidential aspirations," Scheffler told the Grind. "If they think people who attend caucus are going to forget about this, they're sadly mistaken." [CNN, Morning Grind, 5/24/05]

Nothing else comes close short of nuclear war – activists vow to fight on. The Iowa Family Policy Center President Chuck Hurley said the issue won't go away. "It's the biggest battle, nothing else comes close, short of nuclear war," he told the Grind. "It's the biggest job the president has, and it's the biggest test a candidate faces." [CNN, Morning Grind, 5/24/05]


Senator Frist compared Democratic efforts to prevent the nomination of out of the mainstream judges to an assassination. Frist: “Mr. President, The – In response, the Paez nomination – we’ll come back and discuss it further, and actually I’d like to come back to the floor and discuss it, and it really brings to I believe a point what is – the issue. And the issue is that we have leadership-led partisan filibusters that have obstructed not one nominee but two, three, four five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten in a routine way. The issue is not cloture votes per se. It’s the partisan leadership-led use of cloture vote to kill, to defeat, to assassinate these nominees.” [Senate Floor, 5/18/05]

Senator Frist says it’s the Constitution or the filibuster: “My goal is to have up or down votes, fair up or down votes, and it's based on principle, it's based on the Constitution," Frist said in a rare news conference Tuesday on the Senate floor. "One, at the end of the day, will be left standing. Either the Constitution... or the filibuster." [Gannett News Service, 4/27/05]

Frist says votes must go forward without the procedural gimmick of the filibuster. “Republicans believe in the regular order of fair up-and-down votes and letting the Senate decide yes or no on judicial confirmations free from procedural gimmicks like the filibuster,”

Frist: “It’s hard to compromise to the extent that people don’t get an up-or-down vote.” [Roll Call 5/11/05 Subscription Required]

Senator McConnell says compromise on judges is equivalent to a “random slaying.” McConnell: “any suggested agreement by the other side involves a kind of random slaying of good people.” [New York Times, 5/11/05 http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F30A16F638540C728DDDAC0894DD404482]

McConnell says Republicans have the votes to go nuclear. “It has been my prediction that we will have the votes if this step is taken,” McConnell said. [Roll Call 5/11/05 Subscription Required]

Senator George Allen urges action: "I've been advocating for months that we should move on this." [LA Times 5/11/05]

Senator Hutchinson is ready to exercise the nuclear option. Kay Bailey Hutchison, supports going nuclear in the Senate by saying, “We need to move on with the confirmations.” [CQ Today, 5/3/05 Subscription Required]

Senator Santorum says the time has come: “The time has come for the Senate to reestablish that tradition, to end these destructive judicial filibusters and to give all judicial nominees the up-or-down vote they deserve.” [Washington Post, 4/17/05 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57780-2005Apr15.html]

Santorum: "My motivation is to affirm the constitutional duty of all Senators to give advice and consent on the President's judicial nominations. That includes a vigorous...up or down vote" [Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/22]

Senator John Cornyn says the filibuster must end: “Fundamentally, what we have is a partisan minority blocking a bipartisan majority from being able to act on the Senate floor. And this is something that we think needs to come to an end.” [CNN, 5/9/05]

Cornyn Said Frist Is Going Ahead With Nuclear Option. “Senator John Cornyn, a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, tells us his party has the 51 votes necessary to implement the rule change and that Mr. Frist is getting ready to do just that.” [Wall Street Journal, Editorial, 2/1/05]

Senator Cornyn’s narrow parameters for a no-compromise compromise: won’t accept any proposal where some nominees get votes, others do not. “Well, I certainly couldn't support any proposal which suggests that some of the president's nominees get an up-or-down vote and others be thrown overboard, and with no promise of how a prospective Supreme Court nominee might be treated, whether they would be filibustered or not. We need a permanent solution to this problem, and I believe it should be along the lines that I've suggested: that all presidents' -- each president's nominees would be treated exactly the same and not dependent on who happens to take up the decision to block, in a partisan fashion, a bipartisan majority from being able to cast an up-or-down vote.”
[News Conference, 5/9/05]


Conservative pundit Bob Novak says compromise on judges is, “like going to a concentration camp and picking out which people go to the death chamber.”
In response to a question from Al Hunt: “Bob, why would Senator Frist refuse an offer [by Reid] to break the deadlock?”

Novak responded: “Because the whole system is that you're not going to have -- like going to a concentration camp and picking out which people go to the death chamber. You're not going to let the Democrats do that, say we're going to -- we're going to confirm this person, we're not going to confirm the other person. They're going to -- they're going to say that this is not the way we're going to do it. They've had all kinds of different offers of that kind.” [CNN's The Capital Gang, 5/14/05]

Dr. Dobson says compromise would be an end run, and a betrayal. "If this is true," Dr. Dobson said in an interview Tuesday, "it will represent an end run around the majority leader and will quite frankly be seen as a betrayal of the millions of people who put George Bush and the Republicans in office." [New York Times 5/11/05 http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F30A16F638540C728DDDAC0894DD404482]

Frist goaded into action by disgraced former staffer who says delay would be “intolerable.” Manuel Miranda, a former nominations counsel for Senator Frist who was forced to resign from the majority leader's office after leaking strategy memos from activist groups to Senate Democrats on which nominations to filibuster. Winning the fight over judges is "vitally important for his political future," says Miranda. "But even if he were not to run for president it's important for his legacy. He knows he will not be remembered for the class‑action bill or the healthy forest initiative." [Christian Science Monitor 5/11/05 http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0511/p01s02-uspo.htm]

“It must happen next week,” Manuel Miranda, chairman of the National Coalition to End the Judicial Filibuster, said during last week’s recess. “It would be considered intolerable to delay any further than next week. … Were it to be delayed beyond the next week, the Senate GOP should expect tens of thousands of angry phone calls and faxes to tie up their lines.” [Roll Call 5/12/05 Subscription Required]

Right-wing groups think it’s time to cash in, warning Republicans to vote for the nuclear option. On one side are conservative leaders who, after helping Republicans gain control of the White House and Congress, want results. If the Senate GOP leadership accepts anything less than a vote on each of Bush's nominees, ''I think people will be extremely upset,'' said Wendy Long of the Judicial Confirmation Network. [AP, 5/17/05 http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/11664804.htm]

GOP won’t let any nominations fail. On the notion that GOP leaders might allow some nominations to fail without a vote, she said flatly, ''They won't.'' [AP, 5/17/05 http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/11664804.htm]

Posted at 03:28 PM in Nuclear Option | Technorati